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The Neurokinins: Peptidomimetic Ligand Design and Therapeutic Applications

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The neurokinins are indisputably essential neurotransmitters in numerous pathoand physiological events. Being widely distributed in the Central Nervous System (CNS) and peripheral tissues, their discovery rapidly promoted them to drugs targets. As a necessity for molecular tools to understand the biological role of this class, endogenous peptides and their receptors prompted the scientific community to design ligands displaying either agonist and antagonist activity at the three main neurokinin receptors, called NK1, NK2 and NK3. Several strategies were implemented for this purpose. With a preference to small non-peptidic ligands, many research groups invested efforts in synthesizing and evaluating a wide range of scaffolds, but only the NK1 antagonist Aprepitant (EMENDT) and its prodrug Fosaprepitant (IVEMENDT) have been approved by the Food Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Chemotherapy-Induced and Post-Operative Nausea and Vomiting (CINV and PONV, respectively). While non-peptidic drugs showed limitations, especially in side effect control, peptidic and pseudopeptidic compounds progressively regained attention. Various strategies were implemented to modulate affinity, selectivity and activity of the newly designed ligands. Replacement of canonical amino acids, incorporation of conformational constraints, and fusion with non-peptidic moieties gave rise to families of ligands displaying individual or dual NK1, NK2 and NK3 antagonism, that ultimately were combined with non-neurokinin ligands (such as opioids) to target enhanced biological impact.
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Keywords: Neurokinin; antagonist; drug design; ligand; peptidomimetic; small heterocyclic scaffold

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: March 1, 2020

This article was made available online on September 28, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "The Neurokinins: Peptidomimetic Ligand Design and Therapeutic Applications".

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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